by Marion Nestle
Apr 10 2014

The trans fat “ban”: stakeholder politics in action

Food Navigator has a terrific summary of the current fight over the FDA’s proposed “ban” on trans fat.  I put “ban” in quotes because it’s officially a revocation of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status .

Doing something to get rid of trans fats is a no brainer.

  • Trans fats raise the risk for heart disease
  • No safe level has been defined.
  • Plenty of replacement oils exist.

But, as Food Navigator’s Elaine Watson demonstrates, the battle lines are drawn.  Here is her helpful list of who is on which side of efforts to get trans fats out of the food supply.

Public health groups supporting the FDA’s action

Groups asking for rescinding the ban or leaving loopholes

And for what this is all about

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  • Erin

    I’m not sure that you actually read Elaine Watson’s list all the way through. She did divide the list into those two segments, but it was based on their function (either food industry groups or scientific/nutrition/consumer advocacy groups), not on their opinion of the ban. In fact, three of the groups that you listed as fighting the ban or asking for loopholes have expressed the opposite view, at least based on the links you have provided.

    J.M. Smucker says that they have been working towards removing partially hydrogenated oils for a long time and are confident that they will have the process finished prior to the implementation of the ban.

    The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers says in the article you provide that their products have been free of partially hydrogenated oils for years.

    The example I find most absurd, however, is Loders Croklaan. They are a palm oil manufacturer that specializes in creating fats to replace partially hydrogenated oils. They would benefit immensely from a ban on such ingredients, and the article to which you linked supports this idea.

    I know you believe in calling out the food industry for their misdeeds, but you lose credibility when you write things that are blatantly untrue. Companies are doing plenty of sketchy things without having to make them up.

  • Carl

    Whenever CSPI supports anything that is usually reason enough for sane, thinking people to oppose it. CSPI is the food taliban.

  • Timar

    Regarding the article on foodnavigator-usa.com: Mentioning “a cardiologist” in this context could give the impression, that the cited cardiologist (Dariush Mozaffarian) would agree with the the Soybean Association’s point of view. Of course, he strongly disagrees:

    “As a cardiologist, scientist, and public health professional with expertise in fatty acids and human health, I submit my strongest possible agreement with the proposed ruling…”

    I think Elaine Watson and foodnavigator are to be commended for their critical coverage (despite being an industry news organ).

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  • Vik Khanna

    It’s impossible to take the American Heart Association seriously on this or most other nutrition/diet issues. This is the same group whose cockamamie new cholesterol guidelines would put millions of Americans on statin drugs unnecessarily, thanks in large part to the AHA’s cozy relationship with the drug industry. Further, for the better part of two decades, they’ve demonized fats, specifically saturated fats, much to our detriment. They have no idea what they are talking about.